Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Food Craft: French Bread

I'm a sucker for freshly baked breads, almost nothing is better than the smell of bread right out of the oven. Usually once Summer strikes, I kind of stop baking, not wanting to make the apartment any hotter than necessary, but I can thank this year's belated arrival of Summer and unseasonably cool weather for allowing me to make this tasty treat. There are very few ingredients, most of which you likely have on hand just about any time. Also, if you have a stand mixer it's pretty low fuss. Use it for grilled sandwiches, garlic bread, serve along side soup or salad, toast some into croutons, you really can't go wrong with this simple yummy recipe.

You will need:

1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 cup very hot water
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 heaping tablespoon Sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the warm water and the active dry yeast. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes while you measure out your other ingredients (I usually use a 2 cup glass measuring cup and mix all of my wet ingredients together and add them at once).

In your measuring cup, or another bowl, combine the hot water, oil, sugar and salt.

Measure out your flour. Place 1 1/2 cups into your yeast mixture, then add your wet ingredients on top and mix slowly with a dough hook.

Add the remaining flour and stir until the dough is smooth and all flour is incorporated.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Stir and let rest for 10 minutes again.

Repeat rest and stir process three more times (for a total of five times).

Turn out your dough onto a floured surface. Press out to a rectangle, roll up (like making cinnamon rolls) and place on a greased baking sheet.

Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

With a sharp knife, make 3 diagonal slashes across the top of your loaf. Brush with egg white (optional, but gives the bread a deeper brown crust and a little crispness).

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet to a cooling rack immediately to avoid overcooking.

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